Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for several years taking singing lessons. Every Saturday we’d have a recital attended by singers and faculty only. If you had something ready you could try it out on that supportive audience. If you passed that test they might let you sing in a full scale recital, held once a month, in front of a real audience. That might lead to bigger things.

When I first started there I was disappointed they didn’t let me sing in the Saturday recital right away. But they let me attend so I could see and hear why. I saw and heard why.

Gerard Butler, the star, the man in the title role in the movie version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA could not have sung in those Saturday recitals. He wasn’t near good enough.

The movie has just shown on Thai cable TV here in Bangkok. I must confess it did not have my full attention. But Mr. Butler’s singing caught my attention. More than once I had to turn around from what I was doing and laugh at the TV. Where in the world did they find him? More to the point, why in the world did they hire him? Not only is his vocal quality poor, he is often off pitch. His biography (*here*) records that he was once lead singer of a rock group and that Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer, wanted that rock sound in the lead. I am wordless. I wonder if there is a back story there. There must be.

Emmy Rossum, the female lead, is a classically trained singer and has performed in nearly two dozen operas…as a child. There are children choruses and child parts in many operas. But then comes maturity and those roles dry up. Ask The Beaver.

Ms Rossum could sing in our once monthly recitals but I doubt it would lead to bigger things. Her voice was weak and a bit on the screechy side. Being in this picture might be the best thing that could have happened to her. Now she is an actress who sings a little rather than being a singer who sings a little. Now she has a future.

Not to beat a dead horse but now that American Idol is back on the air I couldn’t help wondering what they would do with this Mr. Gerard Butler, star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. There is no way he could pass the first round. The heartless Simon would laugh at him just as I did.

I am not being a snob about this. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, is one of my all-time favorites. I listen to it regularly.

This PHANTOM does not come near that quality.


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